Amman, Jordan (29 Oct 2013) – Days after the Syrian government met its first crucial deadline toward chemical weapons disarmament, Syrian activists and leaders gathered alongside over eighty others in Amman, Jordan for Arab Regional Training on Women, Peace and Security. The training, organized by women’s rights organization Karama, in partnership with the UN Women Fund for Gender Equality and the UNDP, was held over four days, from October 26th-29th, in order to build the capacity of civil society leaders to implement international resolutions on women, peace and security and lobby for adoption of national action plans advocating for women’s inclusion in transition and peace building processes.
Dr. Mouna Ghanem, Founder and Executive Director of the Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace, participated at the training, emphasizing the urgent need for peaceful political intervention and international commitment in Syria, in order to avoid further violence. “The international community and Syrians alike have a moral and urgent obligation to seek peace. In Syria today, this means political negotiation and compromise. Furthermore, Syrian women must be at that negotiation table for any compromise to have value and meaning,” she said.
Last month, a delegation of Syrian women leaders traveled to New York and Washington as part of a wide-ranging international debate on intervention in Syria in response to reports the Assad regime used chemical weapons on Syrian civilians. During the visit, which was arranged by Karama, in close collaboration with Donor Direct Action, the delegation met with UN officials, members of the United States Congress, US-based women leaders and members of the media.
In meetings held from September 17th-24th, the Syrian delegation reaffirmed the crucial role played by women in the resolution of conflict and the called on key decision makers in the international community, including members of the UN, to be more inclusive of women’s voices in times of crisis and in reconciliation debates and dialogues.
“It was so important for the US Congress, the US media and the United Nations to hear directly from Syrian women who are living in the midst of this ongoing armed conflict. Their message of peaceful political transition could not have been more timely and their thoughtful and strategic approach to resolution of the conflict underscored the importance of bringing women’s voices to the table,” said Jessica Neuwirth, Director of Donor Direct Action.
By the time the delegation arrived, the immediate threat of military action had been averted. The delegation sought to use the momentum created by this breakthrough to emphasize the importance of addressing the conflict as a whole. To this end, they called for the international community to accelerate progress toward Geneva II talks, and to ensure the inclusion of women in this process, in particular those women representing civil society within the country.
The following week, the international community engaged in talks at the United Nations. In light of the Security Council’s 27 September resolution—the newly adopted 2118 on Syria and chemical weapons—the Security Council stressed the importance of a speedy convening of an international conference to implement the Geneva Communiqué, and called upon all Syrian parties “to engage seriously and constructively” in the process. For his part, the Secretary-General described the Council’s action as a “key building block for peace” and said, “we must move as quickly as possible to the talks.”
The Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace has developed a seven-point road map to peace, which will be distributed to key stakeholders in the international community.
The Arab Regional Training on Women, Peace and Security in Amman concluded on October 29th. A regional action plan and network on WPS in the Arab region will be launched in follow up.
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The Syrian Women’s Forum for Peace was launched in 2012, in partnership with Karama, to activate Syrian and international public opinion and lobby decision makers to adopt peaceful political means to build a democratic state.
Karama is the Arabic word for ‘dignity’ and a growing movement working to stop violence against women in all its forms. In the wake of region-wide revolution, Karama continues to emphasize women’s political participation and involvement in decision-making and peacemaking, as well as women’s security and protection. For more about Karama, please visit its website at www.el-karama.org.